The Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister of Canada has claimed that banks in the country could be asked to immediately freeze or suspend the bank accounts of individuals in the country, as the “truck drivers’ protest” over Canadian COVID-19 restrictions continues.
The finance chief and Deputy PM, Chrystia Freeland, stated: “We are broadening the scope of Canada’s anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financial rules so they cover crowdfunding platforms and the payment providers they use.”
“These changes cover all forms of transactions, including digital assets such as cryptocurrencies.”
This last statement will have been most worrying for the nation’s many crypto enthusiasts, implying that such measures could also be used to impose cryptoasset wallet freezes and seizures.
In theory, such measures can be enacted without the need for a court order or worries about civil liability.
Freeland justified the government’s stance, claiming:
“The illegal blockades have highlighted the fact that crowdfunding platforms, and some of the payment service providers they use, are not fully captured under [existing anti-terrorism legislation].”
The likes of Brian Armstrong, the CEO of the crypto exchange giant Coinbase, was quick to point out that self-custody solutions could help anyone attempting to evade having the government reach into their bank accounts or crypto wallets.
Google searches for terms like “bank run,” which briefly peaked in Canada on February 10, began rising again on the news – and are particularly high in Alberta and British Colombia, per Google Trends data.
El Salvador’s president Nayib Bukele, who has pioneered the adoption of bitcoin (BTC) as legal tender in his country, offered some stinging criticism of the nation so often held up as a bastion of level-headed liberal democracy.
Meanwhile, it appears that many of the protestors’ international backers have been unveiled in a hack on the GiveSendGo Christian crowdfunding site that has helped back the protests to the tune of almost USD 9m.
Vice reported that the “names and personal details of over 92,000 donors” were briefly “leaked online.” The majority of donors appear to be United States-based, and many were reportedly religious groups or individuals. Many made reference to “tyranny” in the messages accompanying their donations, the media outlet noted.
Some media outlets have suggested that some support has been sent to protesters in the form of crypto after the government moved to block bank transfers.
The news follows developments in Lebanon, where – for a very different reason – the government is also reportedly considering freezing citizens’ assets and delving into their bank accounts. The Lebanese government is reportedly considering the move as a last-ditch attempt to fight inflation. Meanwhile, as reported, the Turkish government is working on plans to get its citizens to hand in ‘under the mattress’ gold in its latest scheme to prop up the value of its national currency, the lira.
But in all these cases, now Canada including, the solution, for bitcoiners, is the same.
Ryan Selkis, the founder and CEO of crypto researcher Messari, responded to the news by writing that the Canadian government’s move proved that BTC’s “narrative remains the most important thing in crypto.”
He remarked that “a modern democracy just labeled political opponents domestic terrorists.”
The protests – which have seen trade almost screech to halt in Canada due to extensive road blockages and closures – saw Ottawa enact a state of emergency earlier this month. But despite widespread condemnation from many international observers, who claim that QAnon conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers are behind the protests, others have claimed that draconian measures could compromise Canadian democracy.
In an opinion piece, the New York Times wrote:
“Allowing non-violent, even if disruptive, protest is an important tool for maintaining social cohesion in a polarized society.”